SHOPPERS TELL MARKETERS TO SAVE BREATH ON OFFERS; TALK OF THE GLOBE; CONSUMERS WORLDWIDE CLIP COUPONS WITH DREAD, SUSPICION

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Limited retail hours, product availability and discount coupons are just a few causes for complaint from consumers around the world in an informal survey by Advertising Age International. Despite social changes looming in such markets as Germany and occurring in such countries as Italy and South Africa, consumers generally are dissatisfied with the drudgery of shopping.

Anita Nair, assistant general manager of a book store chain in Bombay, said she outright hates it. So when does she shop? "I shop when I am depressed," she said. "I shop when I am down, so I just get out and go shopping."

When consumers drag themselves to the stores, they often find shopping surprisingly difficult. "The variety's there, but spread around in different stores that are too far apart," said Jaime Lanfranco, 17, a high school student in Santiago. "That makes it hard to really shop around."

Hypermarkets, selling a greater variety of more products in one place than traditional stores, solve that problem in Italy-but some consumers remain dissatisfied: Claudia Campana wants Milan shops to stay open on Sundays.

In recent months, stores in South Africa have expanded their hours, accommodating a clientele that reaches beyond non-working white women. The most radical development in the last three months is the expansion of hours until 9 p.m. on Fridays by three major department stores in the country's best known shopping center, Sandton City.

Hours and quality have improved visibly in Eastern Europe in recent years, but Hungarians still complain that most stores close at 6 p.m. weekdays and 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

"I would prefer shopping on weekdays before I go home," said Agnes Fulop. Some Hungarians take long lunch breaks to shop-impossible for those who work for multinational companies.

Hungarians also complain about the lack of large shopping malls. Most shops are very small, with room for only two or three customers, and with limited stock.

Shoppers are more split on coupon use and awareness. Many say they would use coupons, but they are "still not part of the culture" in many markets, noted Egyptian Nessrine Salah, 22.

"When I lived in the States, we used coupons all the time, but here I never believed the shop would actually apply the discount. If more people offered coupons and they were trustworthy, I would use them."

Coupons aren't trusted in some markets. Subhashi Solanki, a Bombay consumer, said she's used them only twice.

"You do get a lot of variety on discounted items," she said, "but usually, storekeepers hike the prices beforehand and then off load damaged goods." Ms. Solanki is so distrustful of coupons, she recently threw away coupons for $30 worth of clothes, expecting to see soiled items on sale.

In Canada, coupon awareness is high, but several consumers showed little interest in them. One consumer, Slyvie Powell, doesn't like them.

"Why should you buy peanut butter with 50 cents off," she asked, "when you can get no-name peanut butter" more cheaply? She would "use coupons if they were more useful, if they were for products that were a good deal."

A few Hungarian chains and manufacturers distribute coupons, but Ms. Fulop doesn't use them. "The volume of the discount is either too low"-as little as 15 cents to 36 -"or only one coupon can be used at one purchase. It is not worth using."

Coupons are distributed by supermarket chains and department stores-and through the mail-in Bangkok, but many consumers aren't aware of their availability.

Although many Italians appear to be aware of them, access is a problem. Alberto Bettinelli, a Milan technician in the graphics art business, said he would use coupons if they were available.

Contributing to this story: Mir Maqbool Alam Khan, Bombay; Amy Barone, Milan; David Butler, Bangkok; James Careless, Ottawa; Joanne Ingrassia, Toronto; Mary Kelly, Cairo; Sheryl Lee, Budapest; Drusilla Menaker, Johannesburg; Claudia Penteado, Rio de Janeiro; Lake Sagaris, Santiago.

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